It's Friday night in New York. It's also The Night Of Nasir Khan's life, as he gets invited to a popular party, but is left hanging by his wingman. Determined not to miss out on the opportunity, he takes his father's taxi and goes into town on his own. Into his cab comes a young woman who "can't be alone" for the night, so she takes him on a wild ride of drugs, alcohol and sex. The experience ends up being much more than Nasir could have bargained for when, after passing out from the drugs, he wakes up to find that the woman he's been with was stabbed to death.
That's the core of HBO's new drama series The Night Of, and it's exactly as mysterious and intriguing as it sounds. Based off BBC's Criminal Justice, The Night Of gives the crime genre fans an enrapturing thriller that manages to keep viewers - all 1.3 million of them for the premiere at least - at the edge of their seats for its entire 70-plus minutes. The plot, which may seem like a simple CSI episode synopsis at first, unravels little by little, showing us the night's events through Nasir's perspective, until we're deeply invested in it.
If you haven't checked it out yet (what are you waiting for?), here are a couple of reasons why you should get on it asap!
Nassir Khan Is Literally Everyone
Not really, but you get the point. Nasir - or Naz, as he goes by - is a family centered, study-oriented, naive young man who, on a single night, has his life turned upside-down. Naz is an American young man with Pakistani lineage through his mother, but he represents just about anyone who is trusting and gullible. He has the best of intentions, but goes about them in the worst way possible on every turn. Ultimately, we get the feeling that he simply was in the wrong place at the wrong time but, as with any crime thriller, there's more to his story than meets the eye.
The British actor Riz Ahmed (soon to appear on Star Wars' Rogue One) plays Nasir Khan on The Night Of, and his portrayal of a scared and confused young man who's just been accused of murder is a huge part of what makes us commit to the story.
Evidence: Damning Evidence Everywhere!
The Night Of explores how much of what we do can be traced back to us in a really interesting way, no matter how unintentionally we've done those things. A lot similar in style to 1998's movie Enemy of the State (where we follow Will Smith around as he tries to evade his enemies), the catch is in the details of Nasir's actions. It's a street camera, a stop-by in a gas station, information he asks the police, an argument on the street, reckless driving and even a noisy neighbor that help build the case against him. It's really claustrophobic when you think about it!
No matter how innocent Nasir may think he is, detective Box (Bill Camp) - the officer in charge of the murder case - has everything he needs to put Naz behind bars for life. It doesn't help matters that Nasir can't remember anything from the time of the murder either.
John Turturro Is In It
Back in 2012, The Sopranos' James Gandolfini was set to star in The Night Of, but unfortunately, he now just has a posthumous credit as the series executive producer. After he passed away in 2013, the role of the lawyer Jack Stone was taken over by Gandolfini's friend, John Turturro. Needless to say, Turturro makes the low-life and disreputable lawyer seem extremely appealing and charitable as he takes Nasir's case.
There seems to be some bad-blood between Stone and detective Box, though. Upon finding out that Box is the detective of the case, the episode ends with Stone reevaluating the prospect of going head-to-head with the detective.
It's a Limited Series
HBO's Sunday nights have been a huge topic of discussion over the past ten weeks, thanks to the mega-hit Game of Thrones. The Night Of may very well fill in that gap left by Game of Thrones Season 6 finale a couple weeks ago. As a limited series, The Night Of consists of only eight episodes, in which we'll see Nasir's fate as he awaits trial for the murder of Andrea.
It also doesn't hurt that, in true HBO style, The Night Of is more like eight one-or-so-hour movies, with great cinematography and POV camera angles to boot.
The Night Of has everything thriller fans look for in a crime series. With very compelling characters and plot, it offers a critical observation of the American justice system and its legal procedures. That's some great entertainment for sure - for eight Sundays at least.
Here's the promo for the second episode: